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The Youth Advocacy Project at Penn

On September 29, 2015, YSRP launched the Youth Advocacy Project, or YAP, at Penn Law School. This pro bono project uniquely brings together law students with graduate social work students from the Penn School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2). Working together in interdisciplinary teams, student volunteers provide comprehensive mitigation and reentry supports for young people prosecuted in the adult criminal justice system in Philadelphia, as well as their families. Since its launch, over 160 students have volunteered through YAP, partnering with more than 45 young people and their families.

YAP volunteers contribute to the work of YSRP in three important ways:

  • Work on behalf of individual clients:  assist with pulling records for clients’ cases, drafting reports for the court and making referrals to community-based organizations
  • Research projects:  help YSRP gather statistics, case law and other legal support for advocacy positions and policy work
  • Community education:  help spread the word about kids in adult court and what community members and organizations can do to prevent youth from coming in contact with the system
We are thrilled to partner with such talented and dedicated YAP volunteers. We are grateful to YAP’s student co-founders Elizabeth Levitan and Martha Hanna, and our colleagues at Penn Law School’s Toll Public Interest Center and SP2’s Criminal Justice Bloc for making this partnership possible.

Penn Law Students Martha Hanna, pictured right, and Elizabeth Levitan, pictured left, co-founded the Youth Advocacy Project in the 2015-2016 school-year. They graduated in 2017.

YAP members are pictured with YSRP youth client-partners Eugene and Zakair, along with Terrance, Josh and David from our partner organization, the Youth Art & Self-Empowerment Project (YASP) in 2017.

Youth Advocacy Project members attend a mandatory casework training at Penn Law in February 2017.

Youth Advocacy Project members attend a mandatory casework training at Penn Law in February 2017.

Youth Advocacy Project members install a solitary confinement exhibit inside of Penn Law’s Biddle Library in October 2016.

September 2015: Several Youth Advocacy Project members are pictured with the Honorable Benjamin Lerner (front left), a then sitting judge in the Criminal Division in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia.

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